As I was removing pictures from the walls in my so called man cave, while preparing to paint not long ago, I came across a picture of myself and a man whose name many Sedalia citizens will recognize – it was a picture of the late Bud Bloess.
Bud was a talented author, and artist who wrote nostalgia based on his childhood like I do. Bud wrote a great book about growing up in Sedalia called “Kick the Can” that sadly is out of print. The picture on my wall was taken in 2002 at a book signing at the Sedalia Books and Toys store in the Thompson Hills Shopping Center. A wonderful lady named Merriam was the manager of that store at the time, and she loved local authors. Merriam held book signings that brought many of those of us seeking readers to the store for those signings.
As a fairly new member of that club in 2002 it gave me the opportunity to meet many writers from the area that I had only read about; Bud was one of those. I had really met Bud years earlier when I was in real estate, and his office was in the same building as the real estate company where I worked, but I was not writing at the time, and did not know he was doing so either. He was a few years older than me when we met again at one of those book signings, and I came to look at him as a mentor. “Kick The Can” was his memories of a Sedalia that was before my time, but not so much that I could not recognize its landmarks.
“Kick the Can” as I said has been out of print for years, and I received a copy courtesy of a friend who knew I would cherish the little book.
The picture of Bud, now sits in a more prominent place beside my writing desk on a freshly painted wall. When I look at the picture it reminds me of more than my friendship with Bud at the time, it also reminded me of all those other writers who no longer get the local recognition Merriam’s generosity afforded them in those days. Today, there are only a few venues that give local writers who are struggling to get their books into a reader’s hands a place to do so. I will always be grateful that my scribbling happened when there were people like Bud, Merriam, and those local writers I was fortunate to meet back then. The writer’s list include names like Dianne Peck , a writer of books and a column in several regional papers, June Rae Wood, who wrote books with heart, some based on her life growing up with a sibling with Down Syndrome, and Vicki Grove who writes great children’s books. Closer to home there was William (Bill Claycomb), a writer who always spoke encouragingly about my own writing, something I was grateful for since he is someone I consider a great writer and researcher himself.
There was Tim Mosier whose book, “Twisters in the Heartland,” was a great book about tornadoes that hit Sedalia. Becky Imhauser, and her mother Betty Wasson Singer, two very successful local authors and I have learned something from each one. I would be remiss if I did not mention that I also met Rose Nolan at those signings. She was a popular author, biographer, and columnist with the Sedalia Democrat at the time. Rose wrote books that shine a light on the reality of growing up black in that time of her growing up. I have books from all those authors, and I have read them all with an eye toward improving my own writing. Some of the authors I have not seen for over a decade, but I know they have continued to write, I hope local readers will seek out their books. As I said Bud Bloess’s book (Kick the Can) is not available, but there are a lot of others that people will find rewarding.
Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident whose column runs in the Weekend edition of the Democrat.